Information for Parents about Children's Teeth
DISCLAIMER: The information provided on this page is of a general nature and is not a substitute for professional dental or medical advice or treatment. Care For Smiles does not assume responsibility for persons substituting this advice for professional medical or dental advice. Please consult your registered health provider for advice regarding specific conditions. If you are having a medical emergency you should contact your nearest emergency care centre.
Most babies start teething around six months of age although some babies start teething earlier and others later.
Most babies go through teething without any troubles, although some develop a high temperature, upset tummy and 'crankiness'. A frozen ice block wrapped in soft cloth is soothing for babies gums. Panadol in the recommended doses and a soothing diet with less fruits (to reduce acidity) also helps. Soft bread dipped in broth; yoghurt, ice cream, and custard seem to be favourites during this time.
Usually by 24 months, Baby has a full set of teeth. Some of these Baby Teeth last up to 6 years of age, and some up to 13 years of age.
Caring for Baby's Teeth
Baby's teeth have to be cleaned as soon as they start to show in their mouths. Initially a soft cloth, damped with water and wrapped around your finger is best. Always ensure that Baby has clean teeth before going to sleep.
Do not give Baby sweetened liquids in a bottle as pacifiers - this is habit forming and harmful to young teeth. Warm water is recommended.
Once a child has mastered spitting, their teeth can be brushed with a Children's fluoride toothpaste. The recommended amount of toothpaste is very small, about the size of the child's fingernail.
Children up to 6 to 7 years of age do not have the manual dexterity to brush effectively. Encourage your children to brush themselves but parents should supervise and give the teeth an additional brushing.
Plaque disclosing tablets is a fail proof way to show your children which areas they miss while they brush.
Encourage a varied diet. Natural food is best. Fruits, vegies, pasta, rice etc. improves Baby's appreciation of different tastes and textures of food.
Lollies, chocolates, biscuits, fizzy (carbonated) drinks (Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Pepsi) are not necessary and should not be offered or encouraged. Packaged juice often contains added sugar in large quantities. Check the nutrition guide on the label.
Baby's First Visit to the Dentist
Baby's first visit to the dentist for a dental check-up should be around 18 months. Do not wait for problems to arise - this causes children to view dental care and dentists in a negative light for the rest of their life.
A check up is recommended once every six months. This is important to reinforce good habits, and help correct any problems in the very early stages.
Fluoride applications, fissure sealants, regular professional cleaning together with a good diet and proper home care ensures a life time of healthy teeth.
Children as young as four or five can be treated for orthodontic problems more easily and effectively than if they are treated later in life. Early intervention and treatment is financially more viable as well.
Helpful tips for your child's dental visit
- Please make sure your child is well rested the night before their Dental Appointment. Children cope best with dental treatment before lunch time.
- Make sure your child has had a healthy breakfast before their Dental Appointment.
- Arrived at The Dentist's rooms with about 10 to 15 min to spare. Speak to your child factually about why they are seeing the Dentist and what they might expect.
- Try NOT to use phrases such as don't be scared, it won't hurt or there is nothing to worry about, etc. Children seem to focus selectively on words such as scared, hurt, pain etc.
- Be confident. Children sense anxiety and will copy parental behaviour. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Helpful hints for children visiting the dentist
Some Concerning Habits
If not effectively stopped early, thumb sucking may cause Dental and Facial Bone changes leading to further complications with swallowing and speech.
Mouth breathing is caused by multiple problems, which requires assessment and early intervention. Delay in intervention and correction may cause Dental and Facial Bone changes leading to complications with swallowing and speech.
Tongue thrusting requires early assessment and intervention to prevent further future complications with swallowing and speech.
Falls and Teeth
Babies often fall and get knocks and bumps to their teeth. Fortunately, Baby's jaw bones are softer than adult bones, so knocks do not usually harm the teeth.If the Baby is distressed, an icy pole can be offered - it is soothing, provides much needed hydration, cold and comfort. Please ensure that there are no loose objects including teeth in the child's mouth.
If, however, the tooth starts going darker, or if it is sore or loose, please see the Dentist for advice and treatment.
A mouthguard works by absorbing and spreading the impact to the face. A dentist's custom-made mouthguard is specifically designed to fit to the exact contours of the teeth and mouth. This is because an impression of the teeth is made which is then used to make the mouthguard. Boil-and-bite mouthguards are often ill-fitting and offer little real protection in a high-impact situation.
If you or your child is involved in high impact sports (football, hockey, soccer, boxing), or non-contact sports like cricket, basketball, netball, touch football, skateboarding and soccer where there is a risk of contact or falls, a custom made and fitted mouthguard is recommended.
Australian Dental Association (ADA) : About Mouthguards
Loose Baby Teeth
As your child develops, the baby teeth will be replaced by adult teeth. This transition often starts around 6 years of age, and continues till 13 or 14 years of age. Encourage your child to embrace the "growing up" - loose teeth means that the stronger adult teeth are ready to come through. Your child should be encouraged to "wiggle" the loose tooth - and be rewarded when the tooth finally comes out!!
Adult teeth normally will look Bigger, Darker, and Uneven on the biting edges. Talk to your Dentist if you are concerned.
Encourage your child to brush thoroughly even when they are in between losing baby teeth and getting adult teeth. It is common for kids to slack off as their gums may be tender, only to then get gingivitis - which then makes the gums bleed more!
Why you should look after Baby Teeth
Baby Teeth have very important functions
- Helps the Baby chew and enjoy different types and textures of food
- Helps in swallowing and clarity of speech
- Forms the basic shape and structure of Baby's face
- Strengthens and tones facial muscles - helps in directional growth of face
- Keeps the space for adult teeth to come through
- Has a definite role in appearance, self esteem and confidence - very important in later years of life.
It is absolutely important to ensure that Baby's first set of teeth are healthy and sound till they naturally fall out.
Australian Dental Association (ADA) pages for Children 0-11
Australian Dental Association (ADA) pages for Teens 12-17